The Wright hosts a number of ongoing sustainability initiatives that focus on three core impact areas: water, energy, and waste. Explore details about these sustainability initiatives below, some of which welcome participation from the public!
Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI)
Green Stormwater Infrastructure (commonly abbreviated as GSI), loosely defined, is any public works project that diverts stormwater from a municipality's sewers so that it can be preserved for more impactful use elsewhere in the community. Examples of GSI could include, but are not limited to:
- Rain gardens
- Permeable pavement
Sankofa Permeable Pavers Project
Thanks to funding from the Earth Family Foundation, The Wright has begun its Sankofa Permeable Pavers project, a collaborative, GSI-focused initiative that unites elders, children, and museum staff to infuse essential green infrastructure at the museum with a bit of creativity.
The Sankofa Permeable Pavers are porous structures that allow rainwater to filter through into the ground. Ultimately, these pavers can help reduce flooding, as well as the amount of pollutants that get carried to other areas of the city through stormwater runoff.
Ripple of Impact
A GSI collaboration with the Michigan Science Center, Ripple of Impact was The Wright's response to the August floods of 2014, a deeply challenging time for the City of Detroit when stormwater inundated our sewer systems.
The Wright joined forces with the Michigan Science Center to build and manage stormwater diversion equipment on Warren Avenue, near our respective campuses. This has not only saved the museum precious dollars in yearly drainage fees from the city; it's also set the standard for creative climate change interventions with community partners moving forward.
Now The Wright effectively manages nearly 190,000 gallons of stormwater each year through this diversion system, and has been responsible for removing 50,000 gallons of stormwater permanently from the sewer system overall.
Check out this video to learn more about our partnership, and the effect that Ripple of Impact has had on Detroit communities at-large.
World Water Day
In 2019, The Wright initiated a partnership with water-focused organizations and groups, organizing an immersive event at the museum that drew attention to pressing water-related issues impacting our city, and our society, in an era of aggressive climate change and ecological challenges.
Reducing the Museum's Utility Bill
In 2015, thanks to strategic efforts to install Variable Fan Drives (VFDs) that allow museum pumps and motors to not run 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, The Wright reduced its utility bill by $30,000.
The success of these efforts at cost reduction and energy savings empowered The Wright's staff to pursue other measures that would not only limit our energy consumption, but also make more visible the processes by which we conserve that vital energy.
At The Wright, we're saving energy one outlet at a time, using sub-meters to measure electrical usage in real time.
A continued collaboration with a Certified Energy Manager, the sub-metering process has led to greater amounts of energy-related data, paving the way for smarter, more effective energy usage in our museum facilities in the future.
In the long term, we are working to install interactive photovoltaic technology around the museum campus that is educational and impactful on museum energy consumption practices. Stay tuned for more information down the road!
African World Festival
Incorporating green communications materials into major programming events like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the African World Festival have been enormously effective in evangelizing the cause of sustainability here in Detroit.
By installing informational tables with free literature, setting up recycling bins, offering bicycle valet services, solar-powered phone charging and microphone stations, healthy food choices, and so much more, we're really driving home the importance of sustainable living to communities around the city.
As a result of these efforts, The Wright has seen a 5% waste diversion rate increase; we've repurposed 536 pounds of recyclable material, and diverting 387 pounds of organics from landfills.
Becoming a Green Museum
A strong internal commitment to sustainability among The Wright's staff has led to a 400% uptick in recycling rates on the museum campus.
As a result of these efforts from the staff, over 60 bins have been added to the campus to accommodate this increased need for receptacles. The marketing team has also worked to develop clear graphics for the bins so that staff and visitors are encouraged to utilize them when necessary.
A collaboration with the College of Creative Studies, the D. Tree Studio program diverts dead or dying trees from mulching or the landfill for use in an ongoing wood workshop. The program also hosts a tree-focused symposium (or "treeposium") that explores the Detroit landscape and what trees from the museum campus have borne witness to.